Mouth cancer, also known as oral cancer, affects more than 50,000 newly diagnosed people every year. It’s scary, it’s serious, and it can be deadly. However, it’s not all bad news. In fact, oral cancer can be treated successfully if it’s caught early and treatment begins quickly. To do this, your dentist in Boerne, as well as yourself, need to check for signs of oral cancer often. But what exactly should you look for?
Oral Cancer Signs & Symptoms
Some of the early signs of oral cancer can easily be confused with other non-serious oral health conditions. This is one thing that can make oral cancer tricky to catch. However, if any of the signs and symptoms below don’t go away within 2-3 weeks, schedule an appointment with your Boerne dentist to get checked out.
- Chronic cough
- Changes in voice
- Difficulty swallowing
- An earache on one side
- A hard lump in the soft tissues
- Swollen tonsil on one side without pain
- A painless lump on the outside of the neck
- Any sore that doesn’t heal itself within 2-weeks
- Discoloration in the mouth including a red, white, or black appearance
Check Your Mouth Initiative
Created by The Oral Cancer Foundation, the Check Your Mouth public health initiative was designed to help people self-identify potential abnormalities in the mouth. Now, while this tool is incredibly helpful for those at-home checks, they don’t replace your dentist. The best way to truly diagnose oral cancer is through your dentist in Boerne. This is one reason why bi-annual dental visits are so important as they allow your dental team to see any changes that may have occurred since your last appointment and treat them appropriately.
Reduce The Risk
Oral cancer can happen to anyone at any time. But there are a few people who are at increased risk of developing oral cancer, including:
- People 50 or older — Oral cancer tends to be most prominent after 50.
- Current or former tobacco users — 80% of those who get oral cancer either currently use tobacco or did at one time.
- Heavy drinkers — Another habit that can increase the risk of oral cancer is drinking alcohol heavily. Nearly 70% of those diagnosed with oral cancer are heavy drinkers.
- Men — Men are more likely to develop oral cancer than women.
If you’re overdue for a dental visit or have an area of concern, we welcome you to schedule an appointment at our Boerne dental office today. We’re always happy to help!